Adolescence is a crucial period in a person’s life. It is when your bones really start to develop, but it is also when smoking, and feelings of depression and anxiety begin to increase. This lethal combination, according to, may then lead to osteoporosis later on in life.

Osteoporosis is a condition wherein bone mineral density (BMD) is reduced. This commonly occurs in postmenopausal women, although men can also develop this condition.

Researchers from the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, and Pennsylvania State University worked with 262 healthy girls from ages 11 to 19 and categorized them into four age groups: 11, 13, 15, and 17 years old. Aside from three onsite visits, phone interviews and surveys were conducted every three months. Bone growth and development were also taken into account.

Results showed that children entering adolescence as smokers had lower overall BMD accrual than those who didn’t. Meanwhile, those who showed more depression symptoms had low overall BMD for the entire adolescent phase.

Lead investigator Lora D. Dorn of the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and University of Cincinnati College of Medicine explains, "Adolescence is a crucial period of development that lays the foundation for women's health across the lifespan. As much bone is accrued in the two years surrounding menarche (the first menstrual cycle) as is lost in the last four decades of life."

Although more research is needed to cement how depression, smoking, and osteoporosis are connected, it’s a safer bet to not smoke at all or, at least, to stop early on.

(Photo by Valentin Ottone via Flickr Creative Commons)

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